Ken MacLeod's "Execution Channel" — chilling blogothriller

Ken MacLeod's invented an entirely new genre — the Blogothriller, the infinitely weirder cousin of the technothriller. More improbable, hilarious, and engrossing than 70,000,000 conspiracy sites, a trillion trackbacks, a heptillion message-board posts. This book feels like the future, like our futuristic present. The book is called "The Execution Channel." It scared the shit out of me.

The Execution Channel is set in an ever-so-slightly alternate future, in which the War on Terror is being lost, where terror and terrornoia has destroyed every semblance of decency and humanity. Britain is rocked by race-riots, America is a vast, festering stew of conspiracy nuts and debt-shattered indenture slaves, China and Russia are retreating into old-line Communism, and France is spying on all of them (!).

The story follows a number of engaging, sharply drawn characters — a soldier in the middle east, a peacenik camped outside a US base in Scotland, a paranoid Brit engineer turned French spy, an American warblogger in the midwest, a clade of disinformation sock-puppeteers who maintain great handsful of fake provocateur blogs.

The action is set in motion when a new weapons system — a nuke? a propulsion system? a beam weapon? — explodes at a US base in Scotland. As the plot unfolds in enough twists and turns for three spy novels, the players are haunted by The Execution Channel, a warporn Internet video stream of people being murdered, tortured, shot in war on killed in riots. No one knows where the Execution Channel emanates from — maybe it's CIA black propaganda, maybe it's some snuff-artist's wank-fodder.

The spies and civilians and nutters and radicals circle and snarl, falling on each others' necks like wolves, as scene after scene of gripping action pound relentlessly past one another. This is one hell of a book.